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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.76
Liaison Kimberly Williams
Submission Date Feb. 27, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

George Washington University
OP-26: Water Use

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.96 / 4.00 Doug Spengel
Manager, Energy and Environment Program
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Level of water risk for the institution’s main campus:
Medium to High

Total water use (potable and non-potable combined)::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water use 285,003,995 Gallons 286,280,866 Gallons

Potable water use::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use 284,933,995 Gallons 286,280,866 Gallons

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users"::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of residential students 7,000 6,866
Number of residential employees 27 24
Number of in-patient hospital beds 0 0
Full-time equivalent enrollment 21,409 20,108
Full-time equivalent of employees 5,982.50 5,319.50
Full-time equivalent of distance education students 1,766 871

Gross floor area of building space::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Gross floor area 8,050,200 Square Feet 7,315,674 Square Feet

Area of vegetated grounds::
Performance Year Baseline Year
Vegetated grounds 7.50 Acres 5 Acres

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Year July 1, 2013 June 30, 2014
Baseline Year July 1, 2007 June 30, 2008

A brief description of when and why the water use baseline was adopted:

FY2008 was the year used as the baseline when GW established its GWater Plan and water conservation goals.

Water recycled/reused on campus, performance year:

Recycled/reused water withdrawn from off-campus sources, performance year:

A brief description of any water recovery and reuse systems employed by the institution:

All but one of the university's steam-boiler systems recover steam condensate for reuse. The one building that does not recover condensate was acquired this year from another organization; plans are underway to retrofit the acquired building so it too has a steam condensate collection system.

The university has several on-campus gardens that use rain barrels to collect rain water for reuse in the gardens. For one large building the university uses untreated ground water for irrigation.

The university also has a certified LEED Sustainable Site which was a former parking lot, now a green space, with a rain water collection system and rain barrels to irrigate the grass and plants, and for source water for a fountain. As part of the project planning and management process, the GW Operations Team seized the opportunity to make GW’s urban campus even more environmentally friendly. They embarked on a process to create a plaza on Square 80 that would be beautiful, enjoyable, and acts as an urban resource that protects the Potomac Watershed. Permeable brick pavers include an under-tray system used to collect rainfall. Three below-ground cisterns totaling 33,000 gallons hold the rainwater. Runnels capture non-permeable hard-scape run-off and direct it into tree pits and planters. Rooftop water is diverted from adjacent buildings into the cistern system. Where parking is required by zoning laws, Grass-Pave™ is installed and planted with Buffalo grass. All plantings are native (70%) and adapted (30%) species, further reducing water demand. The fountain draws from the cistern system, and auto shuts-off when the water supply runs low.

The GW Law Learning Center has one 6,000 gal cistern that is being used to irrigate the Center's surrounding property. Another 16,500 gallon cistern holds storm water back from the sewer during rain events and releases it slowly to the sewer.

In addition, the newly constructed Milken Institute School of Public Health captures 8,796 gallons of graywater for reuse in all bathrooms for flushing, within the building that make up approximately 4,682 square feet in total, making up 28% of the buildings square footage.

A brief description of any water metering and management systems employed by the institution:

Water coming into all university-owned buildings is metered. Most campus buildings are separately metered although a few adjoining buildings share a meter. The only buildings where water use is not tracked are those where the university is one of many tenants. Most meters are owned and maintained by local water distribution companies while a few submeters owned by the university are also used.

A brief description of any building retrofit practices employed by the institution, e.g. to install high efficiency plumbing fixtures and fittings:

In January 2015 during the winter break between semesters the university replaced all of the toilets in the International House residence hall from an older model using several gallons per flush to a low-flow model. While this occurred after the end of the reporting year, we look forward to lower-water consumption from this building during the next reporting year.

A brief description of any policies or programs employed by the institution to replace appliances, equipment and systems with water-efficient alternatives:

In the Ross Hall boiler room a new type of air compressor was installed that does not need continuous cooling water flowing through it. The old air compressors had a 24/7 cooling load where the cooling water was discharged directly to the sewer.

In residence halls we typically replace water fixtures as they fail with low-flow-rated fixtures.

A brief description of any water-efficient landscape design practices employed by the institution (e.g. xeriscaping):

As part of GW's Ecosystems Enhancement Strategy, the university will promote non-invasive/drought-resistant/adaptive/native plants on university grounds, using the following criteria for plantings-- appearance, adaptability, security, and survivability.

The seven principles of Xeriscaping are a central part of the landscape planning at GWU.
Proper water usage, plant selection, and cultural practices are essential for the success of any urban landscape. Large scale irrigation systems and areas requiring frequent watering are not efficient on a campus with large amounts of foot traffic, so proper planning and appropriate plant selection is essential.

Example: Outside of the entrance of Lisner Hall, there is a very shallow, dry planting bed. The building eaves, large existing trees, depth of the planting bed, and ambient heat radiating from the concrete vault surrounding the bed were all taken in consideration when planning this planting. Previously, plantings required consistent irrigation to thrive, requiring the use of additional water and employee time. The solution was to fill the shallow, well drained beds with Prickly Pear Cactus (Optunia ssp), an incredibly tough Southwest US native cactus. The cactus thrive in the dry heat, require little care, flower prolifically, and have since been used to acquire cuttings to establish cactus beds in similar dry, hot areas, especially on the south side of buildings with large overhangs that block all precipitation.. This is an example of using a species
best adapted to the area being planted to reduce water and labor input.

A brief description of any weather-informed irrigation technologies employed by the institution:

By using native and adaptive species of plant material, GW has eliminated in-ground irrigation around our LEED-certified buildings. GW installed seven soil moisture detectors during the performace year of this report to more efficiently irrigate several particular areas.

A brief description of other water conservation and efficiency strategies employed by the institution:

Until this reporting period the university had a boiler room with air compressors cooled by once-through potable water; we now cool this equipment with a closed-loop chilled water line.

This winter the university will also remotely monitor for the first time temperatures on selected steam traps to determine when they fail and begin to lose steam.

The website URL where information about the institution’s water conservation and efficiency initiatives is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.